International Summer School in Refugee Law and Rights

About the school

This is the 7th International Summer School in Refugee Law and Rights founded 2012 in Sarajevo, by late OBE Prof. Emerita Barbara Harrell-Bond from the University of Oxford and Dr Selma Porobić. Due to global pandemic sparked by a coronavirus, border closures and the long-lasting travel restrictions, this year’s edition of the school will take place ONLINE in the form of a Distance Learning Course.

The summer school is modelled according to international summer schools initiated by late professor Harrell-Bond in the 1980s as pioneering academic refugee law training for the humanitarians. It’s contents online will remain unchanged except for the limitation in face-to-face interaction that this year takes place virtually.

The school brings together leading academics and practitioners focusing both theoretical and practical aspects of the legal refugee protection, with an aim to proactively contribute to its advancement through their future carriers in academia, UN, governmental and non-governmental organizations, media and other sectors of work. The principal aim is to advance the skills for protection and to help exchange and build expert and cooperation networks in responding to the current challenges of access to international refugee protection in Europe and beyond.


  • When: July, 20th – 29th, 2020
  • Registration deadline: May 31st
  • Credits: 5 ECTS
  • Early bird price: EUR 250 (prior May 15th)
  • Late registration price: EUR 300 (after May 15th)
  • Organiser: Dr Selma Porobić, International Relations Office and Faculty of Law


The school is open to professionals from different backgrounds and students from all academic disciplines. Our participants typically include staff from main refugee and humanitarian international organizations, regional and local refugee, human rights and humanitarian NGOs, government officials working on refugee protection, scholars and researchers working directly on forced migration issues as well as practising lawyers, journalists and activists working with refugee protection and the human rights.

Learning environment

The Summer School employs an interactive learning environment using a combination of lectures, documentary films, debates and open discussions, enabling participants both to contribute to and gain an in-depth knowledge of asylum adjudication procedures and refugee rights in practice. Instructors are experienced and committed lawyers, scholars, practitioners and activists in the field and bring a comparative and locally focused perspective to the international protection debate. For the ONLINE course this year we will use university licensed platforms that participants will have exclusive access to. These will enable a combination of live streaming classes and instructions, self-study assignments, interactive online seminars and group work.

Contents and training

This year’s school will once again offer both general training in refugee law and a specific case-study analysis of the access to asylum and application of asylum rights across the European Union. The training offered on this school focuses on the legal procedures for assisting refugee asylum claims, including practices of taking testimonies, finding Country of Origin Information and documenting families. This year, the school will also include comprehensive training on the humanitarian principles and standards in refugee emergency response, stressing refugee health provisions in particular in the context of the coronavirus outbreak in the camp settings. It will also include Global Compact for Refugees updates and climate-induced persons’ rights to international protection.


The training programme this year will cover the following modules: 

I - General part (Day 1-4)

  • Assessment of 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol
  • International Humanitarian law - Human Rights law - Refugee Law Intersection
  • UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection: “Membership of a particular social group” within the context of Article 1A (2).
  • UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child: Unaccompanied Minor/Separated Children
  • The Ethics of International Refugee Law
  • Psycho-Social Issues: Medical Evidence in Asylum and Human Rights Appeals
  • Use of Country of Origin Information Assessment
  • Credibility Assessment in Asylum Procedures 
  • Internally Displaced Persons’ Rights to Protection
  • Climate-induced Refugees and International Protection

II - Regional focus part / Europe (Day 4-7)

  • Legal Framework for EU Migration and Asylum Policy
  • Dublin and Schengen Regulations
  • EU Refugee Responses and the Changing Paradigm of EU Law
  • Role of EU Courts and the European Union in Changing the Asylum Law
  • Irregular migrants, Return Directive and ECtHR Jurisprudence on Collective Expulsions
  • EU Refugee Quota System and European Court of Justice vs. the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland

III – Humanitarian emergency responses and durable solutions (Day 8-9) 

  • Displacement as Humanitarian Emergency: Preparedness, Protection and Coordination of Aid Delivery – Covid-19 Pandemic Outbreak in Focus
  • Health in Emergencies: Gender Based Violence in Humanitarian Emergencies
  • Refugees’ Personal Data Protection and Identity Management
  • Durable solutions: Return, Resettlement and Integration
  • Global Compact on Refugees: Humanitarian-Development-Peacebuilding Nexus

Special Evening events:

The official programme is supported with various thematic evening events including film screenings and joint discussions and live field-work reporting and Q&A sessions. 


  • Marko Szilveszter Macskovich, PhD, Identity Management Officer, Global Data Service, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Denmark
  • Eva Bouzas Garcia, Senior Inter-Agency Coordination Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva
  • Madalina Moraru, PhD, Senior Research Fellow Law Faculty, Masaryk University Brno and the Centre for Judicial Cooperation of the EUI, Florence
  • Václav Stehlík, LL.M., PhD. Dean and Associate Professor, International and European Law, Faculty of Law, Palacký University
  • Selma Porobić, PhD, Forced Migration Scholar, Palacký University Olomouc and Council for European Studies, Colombia University, New York  
  • Other guest lecturers /TBC

How to apply

We invite you to register by sending the completed Application form together with the Motivation letterCV, the signed Terms and Conditions Form, and a Copy of your Passport to before the 31st of May, 2020. 



Admission fee

  • Early registration prior May 15th 250 EUR 
  • Late registration after May 15th 300 EUR. 

Payment instructions are found in the Terms and Conditions Form below. Admission fee covers the full school program with materials, supervision and tutoring, during the 10-day activities. 

Evaluation and awards

Evaluation consists of the in-class discussion and assignments based on instructions received on the first day of the school and a guided group work and presentation. Upon successful completion of the school the participants are awarded with 5 ECTS points and the Graduate Participant Diploma from the Palacký University Olomouc.

About Olomouc

Olomouc is a beautiful university city with rich history that is definitely worth seeing.

Click here to read more about it.

Click here to take a virtual walk through Olomouc!

Frequently asked questions

Is it advisable to have some background knowledge in international law?

Understanding of human rights, background in social sciences and any experience of work with asylum seekers and refugees or research on asylum and migration issues is advisable.

Will the summer course primarily deal with law in the specific countries of the EU?

The focus of the summer school is on the Refugee Convention and the international refugee protection and law. However, the specific focus is also given to the application of the refugee law and asylum seekers rights in the EU as regional focus.

Is the school programme primarily focused on the law and legal protection issues or also on the consequences/social dimensions and practices of law?

The application of the law itself in practice is strongly connected with the social dimension and consequences that those practices imply. Understanding asylum policies and applied practices involves also political, economic, cultural and psycho-social context of forced migrants. To learn more from the previous schools and participants’ experiences have a look at the concluding reports and comments on the following links:



What will be the admission criteria? Are they stringent?

Admission criteria involve the Motivation Letter acknowledging the experience and interests in the forced migration field and your CV. There is a registration quota of 30 students, which we consider an ideal number of participants for the interactive learning at the school. Generally, we look for the diversity in participants’ educational and experience/practice backgrounds in order to have constructive and productive exchange between the participants during and after the school.

Is it correct that you get 5 ECTS for this school and a Certificate of Participation?

Participation in the school brings you 5 ECTS points and details of assessment will be introduced at the first day of the school when all the tutors will be assigned to each group. We focus on the team work and presentations throughout the school as well as group discussions as a proof of acquired knowledge and engagement on the school.  

If I apply, how long does it approximately take to know if I can participate?

We will respond to your application within two weeks from submission.

Do you already know the deadline for applying?

The registration is now open and will continue until the 31st of May. There is an Early Bird Registration until May 15th.


Student comments & references

Guillermo Beccaría (international relations student, Belgium)

What I experienced in Olomouc during the 10 days of the ISS was just UNBELIEVABLE. I have no words to describe it. I was expecting to learn about refugees and the laws that protect them, but instead I learned about life and its meaning. I understood the significance of the “being pasionate” in a lot of aspects, and how to be it too! You have to feel it! I guess that passion of the lectures of the ISS was undoubtedly inherited from the profesor Barbara Harell-Bond. I will always be gratefull for getting that feeling too, even if it was for that small amount of time.

Ana Kozina (law student, Croatia)

I came to school with just basic knowledge of the subject, and that was mostly from the EU perspective. In 10 intensive days, I learned so much from interesting, knowledgeable lecturers with expertise and experience, who, above everything, were passionate about transferring us knowledge and skills that one day we may be the ones who can use it in our respective fields of work to be of help to those who need it. Diversity of participants, who were of law, social work, anthropological or international political background, equally students and practitioners, ensured variety of ideas, views and possible solutions to a problem to be heard. One day simulation of a refugee crisis was for all of us interesting, challenging and inspiring experience. All the members of the organizational board and volunteers were open to any of our questions, helpful and friendly. I am sure that from all my comments you can guess that I wholeheartedly recommend ISS to any future participant!

Ketevan Svanadze (sociology student, Georgia) 

Thank you for the amazing ten days! I have benefited and learned so much, I feel that I have a much better understanding of refugee law and this school has influenced my views and opinions about this topic. Many interests and ideas for future studies have been provoked in my mind during the summer school! Thank you very much! 

Anusha Ravishankar (law student, India)

I can't thank you and Marko enough for being absolutely wonderful influences on me. Prof. Lang had a great structure to her lectures. The courses that followed her lecture complimented the areas she covered. Well, it was like milk and honey. I believe that you guys will continue to inspire more and more students along the way.  

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